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Orphan - Rock and Reflection (LP)

Orphan - Rock and Reflection (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: 2 stars **
Title:  Rock and Reflection
Company: London
Catalog: XPS-630
Year: 1973
Country/State: Boston, Massachusetts
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; promo sticker on back; cut tout hole top right
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6342
Price: $9.00

Singer/guitarist Eric Lillhequist was the frontman for this Boston-based country-rock enterprise. Lillhequist caught the rock and roll bug while attending high school, forming The Allurs who evolved into The Orphans. Finding supporters in the form of guitarist Ed Mottau and businessman Peter Casperson, the band relocated to Boston where they started to attract some local attention playing dances and small clubs. The band went though a steady stream of personnel changes, but by the late-1960s the lineup had coalesced around Lillhequist, bassist Steve Abdu , rhythm guitarist Dean Adrien, and drummer Richard Adelman. The Orphans also caught the attention of Epic Records A&R/producers Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell. The pair helped the band land a contract with Epic, resulting in the release of a pair of 1967 singles:

- 1968's 'There's No Flowers In My Garden' b/w 'One Spoken Word' (Epic catalog number 5-10288)
- 1968's 'This Is the Time' b/w 'Deserted' (Epic catalog number 5-10348)

Dropped by Epic the band returned to the clubs, garnering some attention supporting long time friend Jonathan Edwards, but they didn't score another recording contract until 1971 when London records picked them up.

LP back cover photo left to right:
Eric Lillhequist - Dean Adrien - Richard Adelman - Steve Abdu

The band's second LP, 1973's "Rock and Reflection" continued their partnership with Peter Casperson serving as producer. With Lillhequist again providing the bulk of material (Adrien was credited with penning 'Smilin' River'), the bulk of the album featured a likeable country-rock feel. Overall the band were quite tight and Lillhequist had a more han decent voice. He was also an overlooked guitarist (check out his bluesy moves on ''Given All The Good Times). Still, the biggest problem here was the absence of a clearly defined sound, or image. While country-rock numbers like ''It's A Good Day' and 'Smilin' River' were professional and enjoyable, they recalled a slew of competitors ranging from The Flying Burrito Brothers, to Poco. Far better were the band's isolated stabs at a harder rock sound. 'When All Helpers Fail' was easily the album's best performance with 'Lovin' You' close behind.

- A bouncy, country-tinged number, 'It's A Good Day' has always reminded me of a good Jonathan Edwards song (;course Lillhequis wrote a bunch of songs for Edwards). I'm guessing that might be one of the reasons London picked it as the album's second and final single. The song showcased Lillhequist-Adrien's harmony vocals and the acoustic guitars were enjoyable. rating: ** stars
- Complete with Bill Keith pedal steel guitar, 'Wild Mountain Ride' was a pretty, heartbreaking country ballad. Sounds like something The Flying Burrito Brothers might have recorded. rating: *** stars
- An atypical rocker, 'When All Helpers Fail' was one of the standout performances. It bugged me for years, but Lillhequist's vocal always reminded me of someone else, but I could never pin it down. It finally struck me - with one of those insanely catchy melodies and an infection hook, this one sounded a lot like the stuff Neil Finn and Crowded House took to the top of the charts. rating: **** stars
- 'Sing A Sad Song' was a mid-temp ballad with one of the album's prettier melodies. Lillhequist turned in a nice lead guitar, while Keith Spring contributed the sax solo. rating: *** stars
- 'Hide Away' was another nice rocker. rating: *** stars
- Ever wondered what Jonathan Edwards would sound like singing a blues number ? Probably not, but if you did 'Given All The Good Times' was probably a pretty good approximation. The song's best feature was Lillhequist's bluesy lead guitar. rating: ** stars
- Straightforward country-rock with plenty of pedal steel guitar, 'Places I've Been' put the emphasis on country-twang. It didn't do anything for me. rating: * star
- The only song written by Dean Adrien (not sure if he handled the vocal), 'Smilin' River' was also tapped as the leadoff single. The song had a pretty country-rock melody spotlighting a tasty Telecaster lead guitar and some enjoyable Band-styled organ runs that would have sounded pretty good on radio. Easy to see why it was picked as a single, but ultimately the results were somewhat anonymous. rating: *** stars
- As mentioned, the band's rock-oriented numbers have always struck me as being their strongest card and 'Lovin' You' was another example. Kicked along by some nice lead guitar and a sizzling Lillhequist solo, this one had a blue-eyed soul tinge that showed how good the band could be when they really gave it a try. rating: *** stars
- With Lillhequist and Adrien sharing lead vocals, the ballad 'Morning Rhyme' would have made The Everly Brothers proud. A gorgeous country-tinged ballad that even appealed to my jaded ears ... rating: **** stars
- 'Waitin' On Tomorrow' offered up a slice of country rock with the emphasis on rock. Excellent. rating: **** stars
- Just Lillhequist and acoustic guitar, 'Sit Down Rock And Roll Man' ended the album ended with a slice of sensitive singer/songwriter fair. Pretty and something Dan Fogelberg fans might enjoy. It was wasted on me.

The album was tapped for two singles:

- 1973's 'Smilin' River' b/w 'Sit Down Rock And Roll Man' (London catalog number 45-192)
- 1973's 'It's a Good Day' b/w 'Lovin' You' (London catalog number 45195)

Flashes of greatness so the LP might be worth looking for, plus you can still find cheap copies out there.

"Rock and Reflection" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) It's A Good Day (Eric Lillhequist) - 2:31
2.) Wild Mountain Ride (Eric Lillhequist) - 3:09
3.) When All Helpers Fail (Eric Lillhequist) - 4:27
4.) Sing A Sad Song (Eric Lillhequist) - 2:52
5.) Hide Away (Eric Lillhequist) - 2:45
6.) Given All The Good Times (Eric Lillhequist) - 3:26

(side 2)
1.) Places I've Been (Eric Lillhequist) - 2:18
2.) Smilin' River (Dean Adrien) - 4:24
3.) Lovin' You (Eric Lillhequist) - 3:18
4.) Morning Rhyme (Eric Lillhequist) - 2:46
5.) Waitin' On Tomorrow (Eric Lillhequist) - 3:04
6.) Sit Down Rock And Roll Man (Eric Lillhequist) - 2:45
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